UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | May 26, 2024

‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘All Lives Matter’ movements polarizing

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The “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” movements are fueling the divide between the supporting societal members — not helping reduce it.

The fact that the “Black Lives Matter” movement has elicited a response called “All Lives Matter” proves that very little ground has been made in the three years Black Lives Matter has been around, which is sad. What else is sad is that racial inequality is still an issue today.

“Race doesn’t exist biologically,” said sociology professor Matthew Smith-Lahrman. “It is something we have created as a culture.” 

I respect the Black Lives Matter movement because the supporters felt strongly enough about the perceived issue of cultural injustice, such as black unemployment and poor treatment of black people by policemen, they then decided to take an ever stronger stand. 

“[Black Lives Matter] isn’t a way to say we are better than any [other] race because that’s not the case,” said Kendall Pitts, Black Student Union president and a junior communication major from Las Vegas. “It’s just a movement to make people aware that we are still here, still standing tall and ready to educate.”

While I do respect Black Lives Matter in what its supporters are attempting to do, I can not fully support a movement that only furthers division.

Supporters of Black Lives Matter have never said, nor do they ever claim that “only black lives matter.” Saying such an egregious thing would be futile and warrant a reaction even more obvious than the “All Lives Matter” one I see popping up. On the surface, the All Lives Matter movement seems so obvious, almost superfluous. Why would this be necessary?

People behind the All Lives Matter movement don’t see an avenue to support a raised awareness of social injustice while still feeling as though they are not the guilty party. That’s where the polarization issue comes in. If I side with Black Lives Matter, being white makes me the problem. If I side with All Lives Matter I am ignorant. I feel like I have to choose a side on this one or stay out of it completely. Doing the latter means I can’t be a part of the solution, so where does that leave me?

Black Lives Matter groups organize protests across the country and the world in order to further the spotlight of alleged injustice. These protests often lead to arrests and aggressive contention with the police. Ah yes, the police. When I watch the news, I see a lot of stories about police shooting black people. However, there is more to the story than meets the eye. According to a study done by Ronald G. Fryer Jr., an economics professor at Harvard University, there is no evidence that supports racial bias when it comes to police shootings. After 3,000 hours of researching and dissecting 1,332 police shootings over the course of 15 years, his conclusion became “the most surprising result of [his] career.” 

Fryer’s research did, however, show a higher percentage of physical police force with black people in comparison to other groups. These statistics do not make up for lost loved ones, nor do they excuse any shooting that was not justly warranted. What it does do is offer for me some perspective.

Whether you are in support of Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter, both are correct and just in their premise but far too polarizing to ever reach their goal of legitimate social change.

Christina Duncan, DSU’s inclusion and equity fellow, said her advice to students is to, “ask yourself — am I an ally, an advocate or neither? Answer that question, and then go do something [about it].”

Pitts said, “Educate yourself on [Black Lives Matter]. Once you become educated, get involved.”

My own middle ground approach to this subject is that as a society we need to stop separating ourselves into groups and blaming other people. Stop the riots, stop the protests and stop the scapegoating.